On 10 of July 1985, 38 years ago this week, the Greenpeace boat Rainbow Warrior was sunk by agents of the French Government in Auckland Harbour. The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior was an attempt by a state desperate to stop the peaceful protest of Greenpeace against nuclear testing in the Pacific. The bombing took the life of photographer Fernando Pereira and the ship was lost. 

As you may know, the original Rainbow Warrior is now a haunting landmark and popular dive site resting on the bottom of Matauri Bay. It’s also a memorial to the collective power of our movement, working towards a better future.

It’s appropriate that Matariki season is a time for remembrance and honouring who and what has gone before. Pōhutukawa is the name of the star associated with those who have died. It’s a time to remember them and that we can only achieve today what is made possible by those who led the way yesterday. 

You’re alongside many in a movement of thousands who take action for Papatūānuku towards the abundant health of the oceans, forests, land and climate. Greenpeace is a movement of dreamers, troublemakers and activists, and at this time we remember we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. The sacrifice of our elder activists and visionaries achieved the past successes we take pride in, such as a nuclear free Pacific.  

Our Greenpeace crew recently had the privilege to acknowledge the efforts and sacrifices of successful activists in the past. The people of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei marked 45 years since police ended the 506-day occupation of Takaparawhau Bastion Point by mana whenua. It was through the sacrifices of people such as the Hawke family, and those who stood with them, that Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei now stand proud on their land.

As we remember, we can also feel a sense of loss. As we speak up for what we believe in we see the serious challenges in the world. This decade is unfolding as a particularly tough time. Last week we saw the highest ever global surface air temperatures, since records began. On average an environmental activist is killed every second day, many of them indigenous people standing up on behalf of their peoples and territories. Our activism can come at a tragic cost. 

Through struggle and by acting on the causes that matter most to us we can also make great gains. 

We should be inspired by events this past year. As one example, the signing of the Global Oceans Treaty was a huge turning point for the good health of the oceans and deep sea. Millions of everyday people persisted for years towards the vision of international ocean protection – with governments this year agreeing on a way to protect a third of the world’s oceans by 2030.

In stepping towards our vision and aspirations we recognise our connection with the natural world. The nine whetū of Matariki inspire us to reconnect with the environment, and remind us of the natural features that guide our lives. They help us to be grateful for the daily sun, winds, rains, fresh water, depths of the ocean, foods provided from the ground and the trees.

Hiwa-i-te-rangi is the name of the star associated with dreams and aspirations for the coming year. This can be a time to look forward too, and give time to dream of what is possible in the year ahead. What are you looking ahead to? 

Our crew are looking forward to raising the national aspirations for what is possible in restoring and rewilding nature and shifting the conversation around climate this election. Our communities need to be part of this rewilding, to make sure our human systems work in harmony with ecological systems. 

The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior was one event among many on the journey to a successful outcome – the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, which came into force in August 1986. This victory is part of who we are – we hold huge pride that we stood up to the bigger nations to name ourselves a nuclear free country. 

Matariki is the star that signifies well-being, reflection, hope and the gathering of people.

This Matariki season you may be spending time with whānau or friends, or just enjoying time off to relax. Some of us may take the chance to spend time in a wild place by the ocean or forest, get exercise or stay warm and eat well. Wherever you are, we hope the whetū of Matariki will guide you!